Friday, February 19, 2010

Congress Starts to Look at Fracking

With an information request sent by key members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee to companies involved in the process of hydraulic fracturing, Congress began a closer look at fracking.  Specifically, the information requests asked for more information on the chemicals used in the fracking process.  Hopefully the research will expand beyond the narrow look at the chemicals and focus on the fracking technique and its long history of safe use.  It is incumbent on the natural gas industry to make this happen.

While many view this as an unnecessary action, it was inevitable with all of the noise surrounding the use of fracking in the East Coast Marcellus Shale formation.  While many in the energy industry are running around crying foul and calling it a witch hunt, it is the opportunity for proponents to state their case in a compelling fashion. 

Unfortunately, several environmental incidents have occurred in the early stages of the development of the Marcellus Shale that have stoked real fear among both environmentalists and land owners.  It is up to the gas industry to demonstrate that these issues were not related to hydraulic fracturing.  If the industry buries its head in the sand and doesn't participate in the process, we can't expect the truth to come out.  If there is nothing to hide, prove it.  This is the chance for the industry to separate the truth from the noise.  Believe me, the environmental fear, even if not based on truth, is not going to go away on its own.

There was a good column in the Houston Chronicle a couple of weeks ago about how the chemical industry undertook a voluntary initiative of self-regulation called Responsible Care aimed at protecting all of the stakeholders of the industry, from employees to neighbors to the environment.  If the natural gas industry is going to be a big time player in this country it has to be proactive about self-policing.  Transparency and accountability are key. Game on!

No comments: